Many Great Lakes fish species, including lake sturgeon, walleye, white fish and cisco, migrate to rocky areas to deposit and fertilize their eggs. However, in many systems spawning habitat has been degraded due to sedimentation, destroyed during the construction of shipping channels, or made inaccessible by barriers. Constructed spawning reefs – essentially beds of loose rock placed on a river or lake bottom – is one method of restoring lost fish habitat. In 2001, a diverse team came together to test and study strategies for creating fish spawning reefs in the St. Clair–Detroit River System. By applying an adaptive management process through a series of reef restoration projects, the team has improved its strategies for designing, building and monitoring projects and for facilitating an effective planning process. webinar shared lessons learned about adaptive management, stakeholder engagement, reef design and project monitoring. Members of the reef restoration team discussed their distinct roles and shared strategies for achieving desired restoration outcomes.

Presenters included:

  • Jennifer Read, PhD, Director, University of Michigan Water Center (please direct any questions to
  • Mary Bohling, Extension Educator, Michigan Sea Grant
  • Rachel Echtinaw, PE, Civil Engineer, SmithGroupJJR
  • James Boase, Fisheries Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Key lessons have been summarized in a recent practitioner-oriented report, which is available here.

The study on collective impact referenced during the webinar is available here.

To view a PDF version of the PowerPoint presentations, please click here to view the slides.

Lessons Learned from Fish Spawning Reef Restoration in the St. Clair–Detroit River System from Sustain Our Great Lakes on Vimeo.

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